Research Ready: April 2013

Each month, we post a processing update to notify our readers about the latest collections that have finding aids online and are primed for research. Here’s the scoop for April:

Elisabet Ney
Elisabet Ney, undated
  • Sadie C. Cannon papers, undated: An unpublished manuscript, Sing Hallelujah, describing the author’s life in the American South during the 1880s.
  • Chapman-McCutchan papers, 1845-1903: Financial documents, legal documents, and literary materials relating to early Texans William S. Chapman and William H. McCutchan.
  • Richard L. Farr papers, 1858-1889: Correspondence between Richard L. Farr and his wife Elizabeth K., as well as between other Farr family members and friends. Most of the correspondence dates from Richard’s service in the 30th
    Georgia Infantry during the American Civil War.
  • Elsie and Tilson F. Maynard papers, 1942-1983: Primarily letters from former members of the Emmanuel Baptist Church of Waco who were serving in the armed forces during World War II. Addressed to Reverend and Mrs. Maynard and other church members, many of the letters express their writers’ gratitude for the church’s concerns and prayers.
Charles Watson letter to Emmanuel Baptist Church, 1943
Staff Sergeant Charles Watson thanks Emmanuel Baptist Church for their Christmas greetings, noting that “There is nothing to make us in the service more content and determined in our goal than the greetings and prayers of our loved ones and friends at home.” Many more letters like this one can be found in the Maynard papers.
  • [Waco] Memorial Baptist Church collection, 1943-2003: Materials compiled by Waco’s Memorial Baptist church concerning the church’s financial, legal and historical records, from the inception of the church to its closing.
  • Ney-Montgomery papers, 1836-1913: The Ney-Montgomery materials consist of literary materials, manuscripts, correspondence, legal documents, and photographic materials relating to artist Elisabet Ney and her husband, Edmund Montgomery.
  • Gordon Kidd Teal papers, 1919-1990: School materials, personal materials, professional materials, and awards accumulated by Dr. Gordon Kidd Teal, a famous twentieth century scientist who graduated from Baylor University in 1927. Teal invented the first commercial silicon transistor for Texas Instruments, among other achievements.

Research Ready: January 2013

Each month, we post a processing update to notify our readers about the latest collections that have finding aids online and are primed for research. As we did in December, we have a few special entries from the Archival Collections and Museums class that worked on an archival processing project with us here at The Texas Collection. (Read more about that project from a student’s perspective.) Here’s the scoop for January:

Simons-Stoner-Rose Family Papers
During the Civil War George F. Simons served in the Confederate army Company K, 2nd Texas Infantry Regiment, and participated in the Battle of Shiloh. He received this certificate of parole in 1865, which can be found in the Simons-Stoner-Rose Family Papers.
    • Bertie Routh Barron Papers, 1897-1972, undated: These papers contain correspondence, financial documents, literary productions and photographic materials pertaining to Barron’s life, particularly the time she spent at Baylor Female College.
    • De Cordova Family Papers, 1845-1956: The chronology of the collection ranges from 1845 to 1956, but the bulk of the materials originated from 1845 to 1863 when Jacob de Cordova was most active as a land agent in Texas. Most materials are correspondence or legal documents related to land sales in central Texas, particularly Bosque and McLennan counties. (Archives class)
    • Olive McGehee Denson Papers, 1916-1957, undated: The bulk of the Denson papers are scrapbooks about Texas and church history. There are also photographs from Independence, Texas. (Archives class)
    • James M. Kendrick Jr. Papers, 1922-1945: Kendrick’s papers include various items of correspondence between family and friends of Kendrick, as well as some financial and legal documents. There is a large number of literary productions, comprised of an assortment of documents and Kendrick’s own diaries. Also present are several photographs and artifacts pertaining to his time at Baylor University. (Archives class)
    • Harry Raymond Morse Jr. Collection, 2000: This collection consists of four cassette tapes containing oral history interviews related to the Waco Tornado of May 11, 1953.
Southwest Conference meeting minutes, April 24, 1922 (page 1)
These minutes are from the papers of Henry Trantham, who served as Baylor University faculty representative to the Southwest Athletic Conference from 1916 to 1923, and from 1925 to 1941. Trantham was the president of the conference from 1918 to 1919, and from 1938 to 1941, and in that position he assisted in the establishment of the Cotton Bowl Association.
  • Simons-Stoner-Rose Family Papers, 1828-1977, undated: The Simons-Stoner-Rose Family Papers are comprised of original correspondence, legal and financial documents, literary productions, military records, printed materials, family histories, and photographs pertaining to five families (including Wells, Simons, Kay, Stoner, and Rose) in Texas from its pre-republic days to the late twentieth century. (Archives class)
  • Henry Trantham Papers, 1894-1962, undated: Trantham’s papers consist of correspondence, administrative and academic materials, and other loose materials related to Baylor University and the Greek and Classics Departments, the Southwest Athletic Conference, and the Rhodes Scholarship program. (Archives class)
  • Charles Wellborn Papers, 1945-2009: This archives contains sermons and other materials primarily from Wellborn’s time as pastor of Seventh and James Baptist Church in Waco, Texas.

Research Ready: November 2012

Each month, we post a processing update to notify our readers about the latest collections that have finding aids online and are primed for research. Here’s the scoop for November:

Gene Autrey entertaining veterans at a military hospital, 1945
Gene Autrey entertains veterans at a military hospital in 1945. Hannibal “Joe” Jaworski’s photo album includes photos of several notable figures who visited soldiers during World War II.
  • Baylor-Carrington Family Papers, 1715-2007, undated: These family papers consist of correspondence, financial and legal documents, literary productions, books, photographs, artifacts, and scrapbooks pertaining to the Baylor and Carrington families. The bulk of the collection spans from 1840-1930.
  • Eleanor McLerran DeLancey Collection, 1944-1946: This collection consists of a scrapbook relating to Eleanor’s service in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) during World War II.
  • Hannibal “Joe” Lucas Jaworski Papers, 1895-1987: The Hannibal “Joe” Lucas Jaworski Papers include correspondence, literary productions, books, and photographic materials related to his service in World War II and his response to the Waco Tornado of 1953.
  • BU Records: Student Volunteer Band, 1900-1957: This archives consists of organizational records, missionary correspondence, and a history of the origin of the band. The group originated to inspire students to missionary action and involvement by educating them about world missionary movements.
Baylor University Student Volunteer Band Minutes Book, 1940s-1950s
The Student Volunteer Band, or Foreign Missionary Band, kept meticulous minutes of the organization’s meetings, from its earliest days in 1900 through the 1950s. Note Dick Baker’s name on the right side of the book–Baker would go on to be a leader in Baylor’s Youth Revival Movement and began the Baylor Religious Hour Choir.

Research Ready: October 2012

Each month, we post a processing update to notify our readers about the latest collections that have finding aids online and are primed for research. Here’s the scoop for October:

Mary and Oscar Du Congé at work
Mary and Oscar Du Congé at work. Their papers document their work, family, and social life in Waco, Texas.
Bolt Family Homestead and Legion Valley massacre scrapbook photo, 1985
Dr. Johnie Reeves at a vista overlooking the Colorado River and the Comanches’ route after the Legion Valley massacre of 1868. Legion Valley is on the other side of the Cedar Mountains in the distance.
  • William Carley Family Collection, 1834-1936, undated: Documenting the Carley family from 1836-1936, this collection includes records about William Carley’s experiences moving to Texas in 1836, his service in the United States-Mexican War, and other events in the life of the family.
  • Oscar “Doc” Norbert and Mary “Kitty” Jacques Du Congé Papers, 1908-1987: This archives consists of manuscripts pertaining to the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Du Congé. Oscar  was the first African-American Mayor of Waco, and his wife, Mary, was a schoolteacher and secretary who was a leader in the community, a socialite, and a volunteer member of many Catholic religious organizations.
  • Wilhelm Esch Collection, 1870-1943: This collection contains certificates of  appointment and of honorable discharge for German-American soldier Wilhelm Esch, photographs and books concerning military life in World War I, items related to the Order of the Elks and miscellaneous WWII items including ration books.
  • Guyler (Lydia Ann English) [Mrs. William] Papers, 1860:  A correspondence between
    Mrs. Lydia A. Guyler (Mrs. William) from General Sam Houston, in response to Mrs. Guyler’s request for Houston to name her daughter.
  • Adolf Hitler Papers, 1938-1943: Our Hitler Papers contain two documents signed by the Chancellor of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler.
  • Benjamin Judson Johnson Papers, 1942-1960: These papers include correspondence, legal documents, literary productions, and artifacts relating to Benjamin’s experience in the U.S. Naval Air Force during World War II.
  • Jones Family Papers, 1857-1867, 1920, undated: The Jones family records consist of correspondence, legal, and financial documents, including fourteen Civil War letters from family members in the 10th Texas Infantry.
  • Luper Family Papers, 1909-1990: The Luper Family Papers are comprised of correspondence, literary productions, and other materials pertaining to a Baptist missionary family and their experiences during the mid-1900s in Portugal, Brazil, and central Texas. (This finding aid is updated with additional materials that came to The Texas Collection after we initially announced the finding aid in June 2012.)
  • Harry Hall Womack, Jr. Papers, 1940-1948: Womack’s papers consist of correspondence and literary productions relating to his experiences in the 1940s. These include medical school, a tour as a doctor in the Army during World War II, and the beginnings of his marriage and family.

Far from Home: The Journey of a Union Soldier in the South

Hiram Carlton letter excerpt, April 1, 1865
In the final letter of the collection, dated April 1, 1865, Carlton describes the Battle of Spanish Fort, which was one of the last Union assaults of the war.

In July 2012, The Texas Collection acquired the letters of Hiram W. Carlton, a Union soldier who spent a significant portion of his enlistment in the South. Hiram W. Carlton was residing in rural Illinois when the Civil War began. Like many of his contemporaries, Carlton sought to serve the country he loved through military service. When the time came, he joined the 94th Illinois Regiment, which would go on to fight in key battles such as Vicksburg (Mississippi), Brownsville (Texas), Mobile Bay (Alabama), and Spanish Fort (Alabama).

Hiram Carlton letter, April 1, 1865 (page 1)
In this last missive in the Hiram W. Carlton Letters, he describes with great detail the sights and sounds of the Battle of Spanish Fort in Alabama. (The excerpt text from the beginning of the blog post can be found at the bottom of this page.)

Carlton’s correspondence here at The Texas Collection tells the story of a simple man who was just trying to find his way—to perform his civic duty in service to his country. Carlton had a rudimentary education, like many young men at the time, often spelling his words as they sound rather than in the standardized form. But don’t worry—The Texas Collection transcribed each original letter to make reading easier and more enjoyable for those who are not fluent in nineteenth century script! (Spelling has been normalized in the transcriptions for the convenience of modern scholars.)

Readers first encounter Carlton in the town of Brownsville, Texas, where he claimed that the 94th Illinois Regiment was the first to capture the Confederate position. Carlton was not married at the time, so he directed most of his correspondence to his sister Mary and her husband Merrill Walden, who had removed themselves to Portland, Maine, at the outset of the war. His letters ring of homesickness and loneliness but also with an unwavering resolve to do what must be done.

Researchers interested in the Civil War will find stories of intrigue, humor, and suffering within the pages of these letters. In the winter of 1863-1864, Carlton accompanied his unit into the Mexican town of Matamoras, where an American consulate requested protection from the fighting that was taking place between the native population and French forces. While most students of history are aware that the Union feared an English or French alliance with the Confederacy, the danger of mounting hostilities between the French/Mexicans and the Union forces that are presented within these letters is breathtaking and suspenseful.

The Hiram W. Carlton Letters (1862-1865) also reveal the human side of an ordinary soldier. While spending time in Brownsville, Carlton was court-martialed for disobeying a direct order that he believed lacked any sort of common sense. He ultimately paid for his stubbornness with three months’ hard labor and a loss of two months’ pay, but the way in which he recounted the tale was so casual that it borders on hilarity.

Carlton letter excerpt, May 10, 1864
In this letter from May 10, 1864, Carlton recounts to his sister the circumstances surrounding his court-martial. His reaction to his superiors was casual yet defiant, earning him three months of hard labor and two months without pay.

Yet in every soldier’s life, there is almost always the pain of loss and suffering. The reader will walk alongside Hiram as he endures bouts with scurvy and other serious ailments. News of significant victories by General Ulysses S. Grant and General William Tecumseh Sherman were tempered with losses of thousands of men. And Hiram experienced personal loss—his brother, Jefferson, died in a Confederate prison near Richmond, Virginia.

Recently, The Texas Collection released an online exhibit, “Believe Me Your Own: Letters from the Battlefield to Fanny from Alex, 1862-1865.”  This collection of letters chronicled the experiences of Confederate surgeon Alex Morgan and shed some light on the difficulties that soldiers experienced in daily life. Comparing the letters of Alex and Hiram proves the old adage that “there are two sides to every story.” While Unionists and Confederates differed strongly in their views of slavery, economics, governance, and the future of the North American continent, the average soldier was not as different from his counterpart as one might expect. In both Alex’s and Hiram’s letters, we see the struggle of ordinary men to survive and thrive in wartime.

By Thomas DeShong, Archival Assistant—Digital Input Specialist

The Baylor Bear Facts: Fun and Games at The Texas Collection

Baylor Bear Facts trivia game
Although we can tell the game was created in the 1980s, we don’t know much about its origins. Anybody out there know more about this project?

The Texas Collection’s holdings include many weighty academic tomes and important archival records. Even the paintings that hang in our reading room tend to the serious side—neither Samuel Palmer Brooks nor Pat Neff look amused in their portraits. But we have many fun items too, like the Baylor Bear Facts.

Baylor University Registration in the 1990s
Baylor women in this 1990s registration photo are taking advantage of the dress code rule passed in 1969. (#4)

A trivia game centered on Baylor, the game was produced in the 1980s and includes trivia tidbits in the categories of sports, clubs, history, personalities, and potpourri. Below are just a few of the many questions available in the game. Try your hand at some Baylor trivia and find out how well you know Baylor! You might be surprised by some of the “bear facts.” (The photos are clues for a few of the questions—and answers are below the photos.)

  1. What was Baylor’s first women’s social club?
  2. Were there any dancing classes taught at Baylor in 1922?
  3. What did S.P. Brooks abolish in 1906?
  4. On April 7, 1969, what could Baylor coeds wear for the first time anywhere on campus?
  5. Baylor played a cross-town rival in its first-ever Homecoming football game. Who did Baylor beat in that historic game?
  6. What year did the senior class gifts become a Baylor tradition–1907, 1931, or 1945?
  7. Who was Baylor’s first clean shaven president?
  8. He is a Baylor grad, [was] director of the Student Center, and was elected mayor of Waco in 1984. Name him.
  9. This famous folk group performed in Marrs McLean Gym in a three hour show in 1969. The show was referred to as the P, P, and M show. What was the name of the group?
  10. This former Baylor student of 1856 rescued Cynthia Ann Parker from the Indians. Who was he?
Sul Ross, a Baylor alumnus, Texas governor, and president of Texas A&M
After rescuing Cynthia Ann Parker, this gent went on to serve in the Civil War, as Governor of Texas, and as president of Texas A&M. The elementary school that was behind the Whataburger near campus bore his name. (#10)
William Carey Crane, Baylor University's fourth president
This president helped Baylor survive through the end of the Civil War and the university’s last years in Independence, Texas. A program for gifted undergraduate students in Baylor’s Institute for Faith and Learning bears his name. (#7)

 

1899 Baylor football team--the first!
As rough a sport as football can be today, in the late 1800s to the early 1900s, it was brutal. Baylor was among many universities that were concerned about such a violent sport being a part of their campus life. (#3)
Baylor University Centennial Monument, 1945, located on Founders Mall
The Centennial Monument, located on Founders Mall, was not the first senior class gift. Here we see students bring forward the time capsule to be placed in the monument. The capsule is to be opened in 2045. (#6)

Answers:

  1. Alpha Omega (now Pi Beta Phi)
  2. Yes, in the Physical Education department, folk dancing was taught. (The first official dance at Baylor wouldn’t be till 1996, however.)
  3. Football (due to the brutality of the game—but the sport was reinstated in 1907, due to popular opinion and modifications to the game to make it safer)
  4. Shorts and slacks (Before, even if a woman had a physical education class, she had to wear a long coat over her gym attire while walking to class.)
  5. Texas Christian University (before its move to Fort Worth)
  6. 1907 (The gift was a circular bench to sit outside Carroll Library–and it is still there in Burleson Quadrangle.)
  7. William Carey Crane. (The Texas Collection holds the William Carey Crane papers in its archives. The Royston Crane papers also have a good deal of information about Crane’s presidency and Baylor at Independence.)
  8. Ruben Santos (He served 35 years as director of the Student Union Building. Santos also was active with the Heart of Texas Regional History Fair, which is now housed within The Texas Collection.)
  9. Peter, Paul, and Mary. (To learn more about the wide variety of guests Baylor has hosted, check out this Digital Collections blog post on the Baylor press release digitization project.)
  10. Sul Ross (He rescued Parker in his role as a Texas Ranger. He went on to serve as a Confederate general, President of Texas A&M University, and Governor of Texas. The Texas Collection holds the Ross Family papers in its archives.)

The Texas Collection has archival records on many of these historical figures and events. Come visit us to learn more!

Research Ready: July 2012

A.J. Armstrong, Adventure, Andrew Joseph Armstrong, Annexation Temperance Society, Archives, Armstrong Browning Library, Baptist history, Baptist missions, Baylor at Independence, Baylor English department, Baylor University, Ben Milam, Bosque John McLennan, Brazos County, Brenham Texas, Bryan Texas, Cartoonists, Charles Chaplin, Cherokee, Chippewa, church history, Civil War, Clark Herring, Confederate States of America, Daughters of the American Revolution, Delaware Indians, Edward Rotan, Edwin James, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Elizabeth Gordon Bradley chapter DAR, First Baptist Church Austin Texas, First Baptist Church Brenham Texas, First National Bank Waco, First Presbyterian Church Waco, Francisco Banda, frontier and pioneer life, Galveston College, genealogy, Henry Downs chapter DAR, Historic Waco, Indian captivities, Indians of North America, John Gill Pratt, John Kern Strecker, Jotham Meeker, Kate Harrison Friend, Kate Sturm McCall Rotan, Lucy Exall Chaplin, Lykins Johnston, Mary Maxwell Armstrong, McLennan County, Medicine, Medina County, Milam Park, Milam's Colony, missionaries, missions, Moses Merrill, National Association of Railway Surgeons, National Catholic News Service, Neil McLennan, Noname Club, Oakwood Cemetery, Ojibwa, Oto, Ottawa, Pat Neff, Potawatomi, Railroads, Reconstruction, Religious journalism, Republic of Texas, Research Ready, Richard Pryor, Robert Browning, Robert Hodges Jr., Roger Conger, Roy Crane, Royston Crane, Sam Houston, Santa Anna, Shawnee, Sidebars: Reflections by a Missionary Journalist in New York, Snyder Texas, Tennessee history, Texas Federation of Women's Clubs, Texas land grants, Tracy Early, United Methodist Church, Waco, Waco Humane Society, Washington County Texas, William Carey Crane, William Maury Darst, William Shakespeare, Women social reformers, Woodmen of the World--Texas, World Church Council, Wright's Brigade, Zoology

Each month, we post a processing update to notify our readers about the latest collections that have finding aids online and are primed for research. Here’s the scoop for July:

William Butler Yeats and William Howard Taft speak at Baylor Diamond Jubilee, 1920
A.J. Armstrong secured many renowned authors, politicians, explorers, and more, to visit Baylor. (See blogs.baylor.edu/armstrongbrowning to read more.) The Armstrong papers document some of his efforts to bring these speakers to Waco, among his many other activities.
    • Andrew Joseph (A.J.) Armstrong papers: The Andrew Joseph Armstrong papers consist of correspondence, literary productions, and other materials collected during his tenure as Chairman of the English Department at Baylor University. His wife Mary’s genealogical records comprise the final series of the collection.
    • Francisco Banda papers: Papers regarding Francisco Banda in relation to a 1922 conflict with his landlord, Clark Herring. Texas governor Pat Neff was asked to intercede.
    • Baptist Missionary Publications: Indians of North America collection: This collection contains religious and educational publications in American Indian languages, most of which were translated and printed by Baptist missionaries in the Midwest.
    • Bryan First United Methodist Church records: The Bryan First Methodist Church Records, 1903-06, consists of documents created by members of Bryan First Methodist Church (now First United Methodist Church of Bryan). The papers contain meeting minutes, financial ledgers, and attendance records.
    • Charles and Lucy Exall Chaplin papers: The Charles and Lucy Exall Chaplin papers contain literary scrapbooks, and photographs pertaining to the Chaplin and Exall families in Texas. The papers document the lives of important Baptist leaders in Texas during Reconstruction, and the family’s service at several important churches around the state.
    • Charles "Charlie" Exall, 1861-1862
      The Chaplin papers contain many photographs of family members around the time of the American Civil War, including this one of Charles Exall in 1861-1862.
    • Royston C. Crane collection: The Royston C. Crane collection contains personal and family correspondence, financial documents, legal documents, literary productions, and photographic materials belonging to Royston C. Crane, the son of former Baylor University President William Carey Crane.
    • William Maury Darst papers: The William Maury Darst papers consist of manuscripts collected from 1894-1973. These papers contain literary productions and photographic materials, with essays, notes, slides, and other printed materials, reflecting his historical research interests and medical work in Texas.
    • Daughters of the American Revolution: Elizabeth Gordon Bradley Chapter records: The [Waco] Daughters of the American Revolution: Elizabeth Gordon Bradley Chapter Collection contains materials concerning the organization’s activities in the McLennan County area. These include minutes, scrapbooks, video tapes, yearbooks, programs, clippings, handbooks, and directories.
    • Tracy Early collection: The Tracy Early collection contains professional and personal materials pertaining to newspaper and magazine articles written by Early, including correspondence, diaries, photographs, school work, books, and sermons.
    • William Carey Crane's home in Independence, Texas, 1912
      A reunion of friends in Independence, Texas. The Royston C. Crane papers include a good deal of genealogical work on the extended Crane family and historical research on Baylor's early days.
    • Kate Harrison Friend papers: The Kate Harrison Friend Papers consists of correspondence, literary manuscripts, scrapbooks, and photographs. The majority of the letters were to Kate Harrison Friend, philanthropist of Waco.
    • McLennan Family collection: The McLennan Family Collection consists of correspondence, legal, financial, literary, and photographic materials. This collection focuses on Neil McLennan, namesake of McLennan County.
    • Ben Milam papers: One letter from Ben Milam to Richard Pryor regarding the settling of Texas.
    • Rotan (Edward and Kate Sturm McCall) papers: The Rotan Papers contain literary productions, correspondence, photographs, clippings, and a ledger book. Edward served in the Civil War, then became a business leader in the Waco community as president of First National Bank, among other positions. Kate was very active in various civic organizations and helped establish Waco’s first public library.
    • John Kern Strecker papers: The John Kern Strecker Papers consist of correspondence, financial documents, literary productions, and a photograph. Strecker was curator of Baylor’s museum, which was named the Strecker Museum in his honor.

    You can see how wide and varied The Texas Collection’s holdings are! These records—and the finding aids we have online—are just a small representation of the thousands of collections we preserve for future researchers. We’re working hard to make our collections more visible and hope that one of them will spark your interest!

Believe me your own: letters from the battlefield to Fanny from Alex

In November, 1861, Dr. Alex Morgan enlisted for a one-year term of service with the 19th Louisiana Infantry of the Confederate Army. He left behind his wife Fanny and their four children, and, though the couple expected to reunite at the end of his year of service, in fact they would not see each other again for nearly four years.

Two days after the Battle of Shiloh,  Alex wrote his beloved wife to share “not an account of the battle, that you will see in the paper, but…my own impressions of things, as they passed before me.” His frank, poignant, and often wryly humorous letters tell a powerful story of enduring love during the war that would determine the future of a young nation.

Join us in waiting for news from the battlefield: each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from January 9 to March 9, 2012.

Alex Morgan’s letters to Fanny were preserved by their granddaughter, Maggie Scott Logue (1884-1985).  In 2007, the children and grandchildren of Maggie Logue decided that the letters should be kept together, donated to the Texas Collection, and be available to the public.  The Texas Collection is pleased to share the Morgan Letters through this exhibit.

 

Trust but verify: looking at a fragment of Civil War history

At some point in our lives most of us pass through that phase where we believe “if you see it in print, it must be true.” In the world of Special Collections, this can also mean that when an object has a handwritten note identifying it, you accept the note as factual. Unfortunately, real life is rarely so reliable.

Take for example, a set of reprints we found of the Ulster County Gazette dated January 4, 1800 and reporting the death of George Washington. Accompanying several obvious reprints was a very nice copy on rag paper in a folder marked “Original.”  Was this in fact an incredibly valuable original? Had we discovered a long lost treasure hiding in the archives? Our hearts beat a little faster until we determined that, no, it was a reprint too. Someone creating that folder (in the days before internet access) had been mistaken.

But even with all the resources of scholarship at your fingertips, authentication remains a tricky business. Consider the framed bit of cloth pictured above and its two captions. The first, handwritten on the paper to which the cloth is attached, reads

Ft. Moultrie (S.C.)

Garrison Flag ““ size about 15 ft. by 18.

It flew while Heroic Sumter was bombarded April 12th – 13th 1861.

C.H.

The second note is on a separate sheet at the bottom and says:

Piece of bunting from the flag

that floated above Ft. Sumter

during its bombardment  April 12-13, 1861.

It was 15 ft. by 18 ft.

Sent to Hon. Geo. Clark in a letter.

R.E. Pare, Macon, GA

So where did the flag fly and whose flag was it? The original object indicates that this flag flew over Fort Moultrie–a position from which the Confederate Army fired on Fort Sumter.  The second caption says the flag came from Fort Sumter–which would mean it was a Federal flag. And, while it seems likely that this second note is an error made by a descendant or a later owner, if this is a Confederate artifact, what do the words “Heroic Sumter” mean?

If you have any thoughts you’d like to share with us on our latest puzzle, we hope you’ll leave us a comment below. By the way, there is a Texas connection to the Battle of Fort Sumter: a completely unauthorized surrender was arranged with the Union troops by Texan Louis T. Wigfall who rowed out to the fort in a skiff. Wigfall, a one-time U.S. Senator, went on to lead the Texas Brigade until his fondness for whiskey and hard cider made it necessary for him to resign his commission. He was replaced by John Bell Hood.